Season 2 | Episode 23
Aug 6, 2020

Life in the coronavirus heckhole

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To get a new bike, this 11-year-old signed a contract to do the thing he hates most: math.

When did you first learn what a contract was? Joaquin Andrade was in grade school.

When he’s trying to get more computer time or a new bike from his parents, they negotiate conditions: chores, grades or other contingencies for the eventual payout.

The system goes both ways, too — before Joaquin’s dad could buy some new car parts, he had to agree to ride the Tower of Terror at Disney World. Everything gets written down and posted on the fridge.

“It feels official because like my parents actually use their, like, real signature,” Joaquin said. “I just write my name in cursive and then put my soccer number.”

A few examples of the Andrade family’s contracts. (Courtesy Autumn Andrade-de León)

It’s a system that’s worked well for Joaquin’s family the past few years, but now it’s become essential. And Joaquin’s mom, Autumn, says it’s not just about bribing kids to do chores. The contracts put everyone on equal ground and makes her sons feel included in financial decisions.

The system also provides some much-needed stability during the pandemic. “The world is kind of raging outside, and as adults we deal with that, but our kids don’t need to,” she said. “And I do feel like yes, it absolutely confirmed my belief in contracts, family contracts.”

The pandemic has rocked the lives of a lot of families in this country: Dealing with finances and child care is that much harder with parents working from home and kids going to school online. In this episode, we talk with a couple of kids about how they’re coping. Later, we’ll get some advice from an expert on how to navigate this time as a family.

You can find a transcript of this week’s episode here. For more “This Is Uncomfortable,” don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter. We have more stories plus recommendations from our team. Here’s the latest issue, in case you missed it.

Finally, if you liked this episode, if you’re a parent home with kids right now, or you just want to learn more about money, check out Marketplace’s new podcast, “Million Bazillion.” Each week, host Jed Kim answers kids’ questions about money and makes them fun for the whole family. Subscribe wherever you listen to podcasts.

Correction (Aug. 6, 2020): A previous version of this story misspelled Autumn Andrade-de León’s name. The text has been corrected.

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